The 2009 PricewaterhouseCooper report on consumer and advertising movements in the entertainment and media industry forecasts difficult times ahead for print publications as the "digital migration" gathers force. The Outlook frames the fate of the newspaper and magazine industry within the wider view of the global recession and the attendant structural changes to consumer and advertising habits. The geographical regions with the highest media development are forecast to suffer the most chronically. Marcel Fenez, global entertainment & media leader at PWC, spoke about the report in an interview with Publishing-lounge.
The economic recession, Fenez explains, is catalyzing the process of digitilisation, as consumers are increasingly concerned to obtain better value for their content. The financial benefits of digital material for the consumer will not expire, even when the global economy picks up. As a result, it is not expected that consumption habits, nor advertising patterns will revert back to previous norms. Consequently, the current economic climate is effecting, not a "cyclical recession but one that is going to result in fundamental structural change". Significant changes in consumption and advertising patterns will inevitably have direct reverberations on the news publishing industry.
The Outlook is a comprehensive 5-year historical and forecast investigation, which covers 4 global regions, totalling 48 countries. The newspaper publishing market is taken by PWC to consist of: firstly, the spending on newspapers by readers (newsstand purchases and subscriptions) and advertisers, and secondly, advertising spending on newspaper online and mobile phone sites. The section includes Sunday editions of daily papers and advertising on free dailies. Any spending on free or other weekly publications, however, was excluded from this section of the study on the basis that they constitute a separate market.
The geographical dimension of the report offers an insight into the importance of continental and national structures, which can incubate or weaken a country's media. This year's report, however, is a strong reminder of the extent of financial globalisation, as the both the economic recession and the digital trend sweep the globe. The Outlet points to Latin America as the only region expected to experience an overall increase in spending on print news and magazine publications up to 2013. According to Fenez, this increase, when viewed comparatively, is because Latin America lags behind other regions in the spread of broadband services. Nevertheless, it is important to notice the percularities of individual countries within the regions. India's printed press, for example, will continue to experience upward growth in spending.
In the "saturated" markets of North America and Europe, what is there left for publishers to do while digitalisation becomes a firm reality? There is a need for a thorough analysis of consumer wants to ascertain how publishers should cope with the changes, by adapting pursuing online ventures or staying true to their paper editions. The "success of the newsbrands will depend on how they respond to disaggregating the exiting product to fit into a digital environment", Fenez maintains.
Indeed, the report does not necessarily point to a certain death of print, but emphasises the need for editorial and commercial change. Fenez suggests magazines that pursue a "niche" content focus and manage to establish a loyal social network around the product could do well in the new media ecology. Indeed, newspaper publishers could themselves look toward such innovation models for inspiration and take advantage of a particularly fluid time in the media industry.